ADF: Catholic Univ. of America on firm ground with single-sex dormsADF legal analysis says lawsuit by DC law professor isn’t right ‘by a long shot’
Thursday, July 14, 2011
WASHINGTON — A complaint filed against the president of the Catholic University of America for announcing that the school would be transitioning back to single-sex dormitories has no legal merit, according to legal analysis by the Alliance Defense Fund provided to the Cardinal Newman Society.
The complaint, filed by a George Washington University law professor who once sued McDonald’s claiming that it should be legally liable for making children obese, accuses the Catholic University president of engaging in illegal sex discrimination, but the ADF legal memo explains that the accusation is baseless.
“Christian colleges should not feel compelled to maintain co-ed living arrangements simply because a law professor in D.C. demands it,” said ADF Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “So long as the dorm accommodations for each sex are reasonably comparable, there can be no credible claim that the school is engaging in sex discrimination.”
CUA President John Garvey recently announced that the university would return to the practice of maintaining separate dormitories for male and female students. John Banzhaf, professor of public interest law at GWU, filed his complaint with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights on Tuesday, saying the new policy violates the district’s Human Rights Act.
“Is he right? No, not by a long shot,” the ADF legal memo explains. “As long as a college does not subject either men or women to particular disadvantages or unequal burdens, a religious school’s right to maintain separate living quarters for men and women is protected by the Constitution and federal law…. No court has ever held that a college must maintain co-ed dorms.”
The legal memo goes on to point out that both the U.S. Constitution and federal law protect the university’s ability to make policies for its student body that best accord with its Catholic faith. In addition, the memo points out that the D.C. Human Rights Act itself has several exemptions that would make it not generally applicable to this situation, including an exemption for schools with single-sex admission policies.
“It would be an absurd result if a law that explicitly allows CUA to have a single-sex admission policy would then prohibit it from having single-sex sleeping quarters,” the memo states.
- Pronunciation guide: Schowengerdt (SHOW’-in-gurt), Banzhaf (BANS’-half)